Friday, April 4, 2008

The Making of First-Rate Universities in China

Following Rao Yi, Shi Yigong (施一公) has recent become another high-profile professor who had permanent returned to China. Shi has been the Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of molecular biology at Princeton University and is now a Professor and Associated Dean of the College of Bioscience and medicine at Tsinghua University in China.

The two of them, Shi Yigong of Tsinghua University and Rao Yi of Peking University, just published an article in the newspaper Guangming Daily (光明日报), on the making of word first-rate universities in China. This of course has been a very hot topic in the Chinese academia. But the article of Shi and Rao does show a degree of candidness and reality that has been remarkably missing in the discussion.

For example, Shi and Rao frankly pointed out that the current universities in China has yet a long way to go before becoming first-rate: "In most cases, the academic level of the average full professor in China is lower than that of the assistant professor of a first-rate university." It is a strong verdict indeed.

To make progress in this area, Shi and Rao said that China's universities must change their management philosophy and style, adopting the international standards and creating a new system that could attract both the top researchers and the young post-docs and assistant professors from around the world.

While providing a new voice on the issue, the article, however, did not contain any concrete ideas in how to achieve such lofty goals.

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